By Layla Hussein
SAGE, the largest advocacy organization for LGBTQ older people since 1978, has celebrated the launch of a new community center for LGBTQ seniors in the Bronx.
SAGE USA, joined by local advocates, community members, and city officials, held a grand opening ceremony on Sept. 27 for its newest location – SAGE Center Bronx at Crotona Pride House. The ceremony also celebrated the launch of a new mural with the center from Karen “KayLove” Pedrosa, a queer, Bronx native artist born to Puerto Rican immigrants. The vibrant colors and graffiti are intentional for Pedrosa to “have elements of the Caribbean, South America, and Central America” while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop, according to an interview with Gay City News.
The center is designed to provide a safe space for LGBTQ older people with activities that reflect their cultural diversity while building their social and technical skills. The space includes program rooms, lounge areas, green space and a terrace, along with free or low-cost meals, daily cultural events, and financial services to LGBTQ individuals over the age of 50.
Though the SAGE center in the Bronx first opened in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, it consisted of a tiny second-floor and a one-room space, according to Jose Collazo, the community’s site director. The mural unveiling and relocation signifies SAGE’s larger effort to support more LGBTQ older people who are historically marginalized, such as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), transgender, nonbinary, and rural LGBTQ residents.
SAGE currently runs five centers across the five boroughs, with each center being distinctive to the cultural histories in its area.
This effort spans across the country to positively impact the aging experiences among LGBTQ older people, ensure fair access to opportunities, and are free from ageism. An estimated 3 million LGBTQ adults are over 50, with the number expected to grow around 7 million by 2030. LGBTQ older people face unique challenges, such as being more likely to face poverty, homelessness, and have poor mental and physical health, according to the SAGE & National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. Research also shows that LGBTQ older people are two times more likely to be single and live alone and four times less likely to have children.
Its national centers include sites in the broader New York state and southern Florida, and is continuing to expand to meet the needs of LGBTQ older people as a result of ongoing discrimination. Another SAGE center recently opened in Woodlawn, Maryland, on Oct. 12, in its effort of reaching different geographic communities.
In addition to hosting centers in local communities, SAGE provides services like SAGECents, a digital wellness platform to increase financial stability for LGBTQ older people, or SAGEConnect, a phone-buddy program that matches LGBTQ people with volunteers for weekly phone calls. SAGE offers more than seven services through virtual and in-person programming to help LGBTQ elders in more areas, such as entrepreneurship and social enterprise, or immediate hotline services – and all are free.
The newest openings in the Bronx and Woodlawn reflect SAGE’s plans to provide inclusive long-term community care for the diverse population of LGBTQ older people.
If you or someone you know is in need of free and immediate resources for LGBTQ older people, visit sageusa.org.